Monday, 4 May 2015

Steadying Ourselves For The #GE2015 Results

Remember those minutes leading up to 10pm on 6 May 2010? The excitement for Liberal Democrats was palpable. As I took my seat in my then local pub to watch the results, I was so filled with naive optimism. Not too many days before, and only a mile away, I'd witnessed a massive Lib Dem rally and a #IAgreeWithNick flashmob in Trafalgar Square. How could we not make massive gains?

Of course, on the night, despite every poll except the exit poll... we lost seats. Sure we managed to get into Government for the first time (as Lib Dems) but it was deflating and depressing. Yes, I was very naive.

Now we are a couple of days away from the 2015 general election. And I'm struck by a mixture of high excitement, extreme trepidation and a general expectation that the results will ultimately confound all expectations and be utterly dull.

The excitement comes from the fact that there are a lot of angles. The rise of UKIP, the Green "surge" (a huge percentage increase in their vote means they will be struggling even to beat us but still...), the collapse of the Lib Dems, the mediocre performance of the Labservatives and, most thrilling of all, the SNP explosion. These things could make for some exciting moments... Scottish Lib Dem and Labour big fish being taken out by the SNP (see Douglas Alexander, Danny Alexander or Charles Kennedy), Nick Clegg's knife-edge election night, will George Galloway and Caroline Lucas keep their seats? We just have little idea of what awaits us, which makes it possibly the most exciting election since 1997.

The trepidation comes from what lies in store for the Lib Dems. I hope that we can save a fair number of seats, I think anything more than 20 would be marvellous. But we just don't know how it will go. It'll be very depressing to see the party behind the introduction of same-sex marriage lose so many good people (especially sad to see people like Lynne Featherstone be defeated for example). We can hope for a miracle but...

And the thing truly making me worried is the rise of the SNP. Nationalism should be a philosophy consigned to the waste basket of history. Alas. Now we sit at the point where the SNP may form part of a coalition government or offer some sort of deal to prop up a minority government. This is worrying for the future of our union and as a unionist I'm thus not best pleased.

And then we come to the ultimate truth of British elections... the result is likely to be boring. We'll get all excited, expecting some interesting things to happen and then Labour will probably just squeak through and won't we all look silly? An exit poll of depressing blandness awaits us on Thursday evening I'm sure of it, but we can keep our hopes up for something different until those last few minutes before 10pm...

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